It takes a passionate relationship to write and sing a passionate song about a relationship. There was plenty of that when the five members of Fleetwood Mac sat down in 1976 to record their follow up album to their previous album, the self-titled Fleetwood Mac LP. There was deep trouble in the relationships between Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, Christine McVie and John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood and his wife Jenny. They channelled their feelings into their music, wrote and recorded a brilliant album titled Rumours that was hailed as a classic album almost immediately after its release. Rumours went on to sell over 40 million copies worldwide and is widely regarded as one of the best albums of any era.
The recording sessions were fuelled by drug taking and emotional outbursts among the band members and the record label despaired over the possibility that this album would ever get completed. Lindsay Buckingham, Christine McVie, and Stevie Nicks often sat separately and wrote their songs and later recorded it together.
An Honest Take on Relationships
The fallout between Nicks and Buckingham was captured with bitterness on “Second Hand News” which he sang with a big dose of jealousy. Buckingham had a failed relationship with another woman which formed the basis of the song “Never Going Back Again.” Optimism came from the depths of sadness and pessimism and Christine wrote the evergreen motivational anthem “Don’t Stop.” There is no telling how many defeated hearts and souls have felt positive after listening to this powerful song.
Letting go of the one you have loved and maybe still love is the message in “Go On Your Own Way,” a song that Buckingham wrote for Nicks. Some of the softer songs on Rumours touch your heart with their gentle lilt and earnestness. Songs like “Dreams,” “Songbird,” “I Don’t Want to Know,” and “Gold Dust Woman” encapsulate the gentler side of Fleetwood Mac. Having two gifted female vocalists and one male singer gave Rumours the range and musical palette few bands have. In the case of Fleetwood Mac three was certainly not a crowd.
Christine is aglow with happiness on her paean to a caring and interesting lover on “You Make Loving Fun.” “Oh Daddy” is about Mick Fleetwood who was nicknamed Daddy by the rest of the band for his penchant for telling others what to do. It’s an inside sly joke on the man who has literally held the band together all throughout its turbulent existence. “The Chain” is a song about never breaking up a relationship come what may and the only song which was written by the whole band. It works as a high energy song that captures the emotional storm that had enveloped the whole band all through the making of the album.
Lindsay Buckingham’s guitar playing is one of the highlights of the album as he incorporates his strong guitar solos into the overall framework of the individual songs. The keyboards and drumming are also brilliant and Rumours turned out to be among the best studio recordings ever laid down by a band or musician.
A Classic for all Times
Rumours was a massive seller from the second week of its release and topped the charts in many countries. It is the highest selling album of the band and their most well-known work. Millions of listeners found words and music on Rumours that described their feelings and emotions and resonated with them. Over the years every credible music publication has included Rumours among the best albums ever recorded. Rumours became part of popular culture with its honest take on complex relationships and emotional baggage. Rumours is timeless and people find that it expresses their feelings on the dot even today. That Rumours is a soundtrack of emotional turmoil is not a rumour. It is a fact!